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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A would-be mage with no magic of his own has to defeat powerful enemies with only cunning and deception in the first book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell. Kellen is moments away from facing his first duel and proving his worth as a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is fading. Facing exile unless he can pass the mage trials, Kellen is willing to risk everything -- even his own life -- in search of a way to restore his magic. But when the enigmatic Ferius Parfax arrives in town, she challenges him to take a different path. One of the elusive Argosi, Ferius is a traveller who lives by her wits and the cards she carries. Daring, unpredictable, and wielding magic Kellen has never seen before, she may be his only hope. The first novel in a compelling six-book series, bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic.…


by Sebastien de Castell

Overall Book Review:

Spellslinger is the first book in a six book fantasy series. The setting is a little bit of a mash-up between the Wild West and something that feels like the middle east. The main character is Kellen, the son in a powerful magician’s house, who is sadly lacking in magical powers and racing against the clock to find a way to ignite the small bit of magic within himself. There is some playful and enjoyable humor in this book which is oddly juxtaposed against a couple of extremely painful scenes of betrayal and harm. Also, let’s just say for the record, that the squirrel-cat is, well, awesome.

This is a coming-of-age fantasy story that although not written specifically for a YA audience, would certainly be a great fit for that demographic because of the age of the characters and the struggles that they face.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 33 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 11 derogatory names; 1 scatological word; 3 anatomical terms.

Violence/Gore: Magical duel resulting in pain and severe injury; posturing/verbal threats and stand-off; duel scene with tackling, struggle, magic, metal cords, and blood; character is tied up; sick animal is used for nefarious purposes in a magic spell intended to harm; animal rips out a sick puppy’s throat; threat to torture and kill an animal; extended, disturbing scene in which an animal is repeatedly tortured with magic spells; fight scene with kicking punching, hitting with rocks–two individuals in particular beating another individual, with mention of blood; extended battle scene with some animals resulting in injuries; instructions shouted “kill everyone”; magical procedure which is essential torture, involving nails and inflicted by a parent on a child; animal bites another; fight using biting, rocks, tripping etc. to free someone who was kidnapped; character killed with knife, lightning, snapped neck; extended scene in which characters try to burn other characters to death, death of two; fight with use of magic, entrails of a horse; extended emotionally upsetting scene of essentially genocide of a race of animals by fire/magic.

Sex/Nudity: Characters thinks about/wants to kiss another character; male and female characters embrace (mostly platonic); innuendo; hug; male and female characters kiss.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, discrimination, prejudice, parent causing harm to their child, genocide.

Alcohol/Drug Use:

Adult characters smoke; adult characters drink; characters are drugged; “lightning weed” ingested to enhance abilities.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!